Summarizing The Schultz Situation
If you're as interested in the technical, contractual side of hockey as I am, it's not uncommon to become a little exasperated in exploring some of the minutia surrounding the NHL's CBA. Justin Schultz's situation presents one such case where reading the relevant sections of the CBA doesn't fully explain Schultz's impending UFA status. There seems to be an understanding as to why Anaheim loses Schultz's rights, but it's less clear exactly why he avoids draft re-entry only to become a UFA on July 1st. I'll try to provide an overview of the issues involved, and if I'm missing some, feel free to help me flesh this out in the comments.
First of all, specifically, why does Anaheim lose Schultz's rights? As has been covered elsewhere, Anaheim has (or had), Schultz's rights until he either graduates from college, or if he leaves school early, until the fourth June 1st following his draft. To be specific, Article 8.6.c.iv states:
If a Player drafted at age 18 or 19, who had received a Bona Fide Offer in accordance with Section 8.6(a)(ii) above, becomes a bona fide college student prior to the second June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft and does not remain a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class, his drafting Club shall retain exclusive rights for the negotiation of his services until the fourth June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft.This is a pretty straightforward section to interpret, and explains why the Ducks would lose the rights to Schultz. However, it does not do a good job of clarifying where the reported 30 day window comes from. Within article 8, Article 8.6.d, there is a section that talks about "bona fide offers", and how they remain in effect for a 30 day period. There is nothing specific that seems to mention why Anaheim has a 30 day window to sign Schultz at this point, but some light may have been shed upon that by the excellent interview Jason Gregor conducted on June 7th, with the former GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Brian Lawton. Lawton touched on the 30 day window, suggesting that it came into effect post-lockout after Don Waddell, then GM of the Atlanta Thrashers, was incensed that he might lose Jim Slater to UFA without a chance to sign him. Does that mean there is some agreement written that isn't included as part of the CBA, which would explain this 30 day window? Perhaps.
Secondly, a quick reading of the "Eligibility for Claim" section suggests Schultz might well be draft eligible, depending on the date he left college. The eligibility exceptions are listed in Article 8.4 of the CBA :
8.4 Eligibility for Claim.
(a) All Players age 18 or older are eligible for claim in the Entry Draft, except:
(i) a Player on the Reserve List of a Club, other than as a try-out;
(ii) a Player who has been claimed in two prior Entry Drafts;
(iii) a Player who previously played in the League and became a Free Agent pursuant to this Agreement;
(iv) a Player age 21 or older who: (A) has not been selected in a previous Entry Draft and (B) played hockey for at least one season in North America when he was age 18, 19, or 20 and shall be
eligible to enter the League as an Unrestricted Free Agent pursuant to Article 10.1(d); and
(v) a Player age 22 or older who has not been selected in a previous Entry Draft and shall be eligible to enter the League as an Unrestricted Free Agent pursuant to Article 10.1(d).
The only subsection that seems like it would, or could, apply to Schultz is (i), due to the aforementioned 30 day window. This uncertainty has led to the questions concerning his draft eligibility. According to Bob McKenzie's article from May 25th, it appears he left school somewhere between May 21st-25th. It is possible that he would be off the reserve list before the draft, but I find it hard to believe his agent wouldn't have specifically picked a date where he would avoid re-entering the 2012 draft.
Should a team spend a late round pick on Schultz in the hopes he's draft eligible? If the only fall-out is the loss of that selection, it's not hard to imagine a team deciding that's an acceptable risk and attempting to draft Schultz. If it turns out that he's still on ANA's reserve list, and there would be far more serious repercussions for trying to draft him, then maybe the reward isn't worth the risk? Again, I would imagine Schultz and his agent specifically picked the day they did to leave school so as to avoid draft re-entry, but it's hard to know given the lack of specific information available.
This is a long way to go to not find any answers, but here are the unanswered questions as I see them:
- Where does the 30 day window come from? League rules?
- When, exactly, did Schultz leave school? Is the timing of his defection from college the reason he avoids the 2012 draft? Why does Schultz not go back into the draft?
Are there any questions I've missed, any details that might help fill in the blanks with this situation? I expect we'll hear numerous rumors surrounding impending destinations for Schultz by the time June 25th arrives, but I'm not as sure we'll get a clear and concise explanation of exactly how we arrive there. It would be nice for this situation to be laid out neatly, but failing that I guess a reasonable guess is better than nothing...